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on the blessing of God upon his honest industry. I congratulate your good spouse, that he, as well as myself, is now free from public cares, and that he can bend his whole attention to his farming, which will afford him both profit and pleasure; a business which nobody knows better how to manage with advantage.
I am too old to follow printing again myself, but, loving the business, I have brought up my grandson Benjamin to it, and have built and furnished a printinghouse for him, which he now manages under my eye. I have great pleasure in the rest of my grandchildren, who are now in number eight, and all promising, the youngest only six months old, but shows signs of great good nature. My friends here are numerous, and 1 enjoy as much of their conversation as I can reasonably wish; and I have as much health and cheerfulness, as can well be expected at my age, now eightythree. Hitherto this long life has been tolerably happy; so that, if I were allowed to live it over again, I should make no objection, only wishing for leave to do, what authors do in a second edition of their works, correct some of my errata. Among the felicities of my life I reckon your friendship, which I shall remember with pleasure as long as that life lasts, being ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
FROM M. LE VEILLARD TO B. FRANKLIN. State of Affairs in France. — Duke of Orleans.
Passy, 25 April, 1789. MY DEAR FRIEND, Since your letter of the 10th of December last, I have had no other from you. We are at last on the eve of the assembling of the States-General. If any one had said, when you were with us, that this was even a possible thing, he would have run a great risk of finding himself in the Bastille before night. I do not know how much good they will do; but in the mean while people say and print whatever they please, and nobody is sent to prison. The demands of the different deputations are for the most part publicly known. Many give very narrow limits to the royal authority, and all without exception require, that, before attending to any thing else, a constitution shall be established, which shall give legislative authority to the nation, either conjointly with the King or independently of him; which shall determine the composition and the mode of action of a permanent assembly of the States-General, or of a body which may come together without being specially called, at short and stated intervals; and which shall give full security to personal liberty and to property, and to the liberty of the press, with the condition, that the printer shall affix his name to the works he publishes. They demand, moreover, the abolition of all privileges and exemptions relating to the payment of taxes, the reform of civil and criminal laws, and the responsibility of ministers. This is not all; but upon this basis, if once established, we shall build up a government, not perfect indeed, for that is beyond the reach of humanity, but good enough to satisfy any reasonable being.
Unfortunately the priests and the nobles are not yet sufficiently moderate, nor the lower classes sufficiently enlightened. The intermediate classes are for this reason odious to the former, and not properly valued by the latter, who are dazzled and blinded by the first rays of a liberty, of which they had not even an idea, and which intoxicates them, and renders them incapable of listening to reason. The nobility appear to insist upon their ill received claim of voting by orders, and not in common and individually. This would take from the Third Estate all the advantage of the number of its deputies, which by the rules is equal to that of the two other orders together. They therefore insist upon deliberating in common and voting individually, which is the only mode of substituting a true public spirit for the spirit of party. It is much to be feared, that this difficulty will occasion a disastrous schism.
Notwithstanding our recent calamities from hailstorms, the scarcity of grain, and our long winter, and notwithstanding we are in the midst of anarchy, and no one feels sure enough of obedience to dare to command, yet such is the mildness of the nation, that there are but few disorders. The disturbances in Brittany, in Provence, where M. de Mirabeau is playing a great part, in Dauphiny, and in Franche Comté, have died away. Not a hundred persons in all have been killed ; and, if we obtain a reasonable constitution, it will be perhaps a better one than that of the English, and we shall pay less dear for it than either they or you have done.
Among those who are now most prominent, appears a man whom you never would have thought of; a man who, from his situation, his rank, his riches, and his independence, must either cover himself with glory in consummating the revolution, or with infamy if he fails and leaves it imperfect, by not maintaining the principles, which he has solemnly avowed; I mean the Duke of Orleans. He has doubtless great faults; but he has good qualities, which he was not thought to possess, and which he has to some extent proved in the late public calamities. His character, a mixture it is true of eccentricity and originality, promises some firmness;
and the abuse of power, which most unjustly deprived him so long of his liberty, must inspire him with a desire of revenge, which he cannot more fully gratify, than by reëstablishing, as firmly as possible, individual liberty, and consequently that of the nation.
April 30th. Most of the assemblies of Paris and the vicinity have been such scenes of tumult, that, after a long time spent in useless clamor, they have generally been obliged to break up without doing any business. They now appear, however, to be growing more quiet, and likely to come to some result; but the populace, especially the laboring men, either of their own accord or because they are in the pay of the malecontents, have been guilty of great disorders, and have pillaged houses, burnt furniture, maltreated and even killed some persons. Troops stationed in the environs have been called in. It was found necessary to fire upon the people, and last evening, it is believed, there were near a hundred persons killed, and at least as many wounded. To-day tranquillity is restored. Among the killed are twenty-five or thirty, who perished in frightful torments. They were destroying a paper factory, in the cellars of which they found aqua fortis, or oil of vitriol, which they drank for wine or liqueur.
Mr. Jefferson will probably hand you this letter. He will return to us next autumn, and I shall be really grieved if he comes with empty hands, and does not bring me the work, which you have so often promised. I am, &c.
TO MISS CATHERINE LOUISA SHIPLEY.
On the Death of her father.
Philadelphia, 27 April, 1789. It is only a few days since the kind letter of my dear young friend, dated December 24th, came to my hands. I had before, in the public papers, met with the afflicting news that letter contained. That excellent man has then left us! His departure is a loss, not to his family and friends only, but to his nation, and to the world; for he was intent on doing good, had wisdom to devise the means, and talents to promote them. His “Sermon before the Society for Propagating the Gospel,” and his “Speech intended to have been spoken," * are proofs of his ability as well as his humanity. Had his counsels in those pieces been attended to by the ministers, how much bloodshed might have been prevented, and how much expense and disgrace to the nation avoided!
Your reflections on the constant calmness and composure attending his death are very sensible. Such instances seem to show, that the good sometimes enjoy in dying a foretaste of the happy state they are about to enter.
According to the course of years, I should have quitted this world long before him. I shall however not be long in following. I am now in my eighty-fourth year, and the last year has considerably enfeebled me; so that I hardly expect to remain another. You will then, my dear friend, consider this as probably the last
* This performance was published in 1774, and entitled, A Speech intended to have been spoken on the Bill for altering the Charters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. It has been greatly commended for the beauty of its style, and its just and liberal sentiments in regard to the controversy then existing between Great Britain and the Colonies.